Learning Disorder

Students seeking accommodations for a Learning Disorder must provide documentation that establishes that the condition is significant enough to be disabling. This means that the student is substantially limited in one or more major life activities compared to most people and that reasonable accommodations are necessary to ameliorate the impact of the disability. Typically, an educational assessment that includes the elements outlined below is necessary to demonstrate that the student has a disability and that accommodations are necessary to allow the student equal access to the university.

  1. Documentation should be based on an adult-normed assessment, and the last date of assessment should be stated.*
  2. Documentation should be typed, signed by a qualified professional* and submitted on official letterhead. Professionals providing documentation should include information concerning their credentials.
  3. The report should include a specific diagnosis of DSM-V or equivalent criteria.
  4. The evaluation should include a thorough clinical interview and developmental history, rating scales, checklists (both self-report and collateral sources), medication history, and childhood school information. An interpretative summary of all evaluations should be included.
  5. The report should state the functional limitations to the student’s major life activities that are indicated by these assessments. Describe the current impact of the learning disorder on the student academically. The results of a comprehensive psychoeducational evaluation should be submitted, including an aptitude assessment (e.g., Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale III), an achievement battery (e.g., Woodcock Johnson Psychoeducational Battery III: Tests of Achievement) and an information processing assessment (e.g., Wechsler Memory Scale-III). Additionally, evaluators may include additional assessments that, based on their knowledge of the student, would provide objective data that highlights the impact of the learning disorder on the student’s functioning.
  6. Based on test and other assessment data, the qualified professional should offer specific recommendations for accommodations and an explanation as to why each accommodation is needed.
  7. The report should include the results of other appropriate assessment measures to support a differential diagnosis, to rule out medical and/or psychiatric factors or to disentangle the learning disorder from co-existing disorders.

Students or evaluators who have any questions about what type of evaluation is required are encouraged to call and speak with DSP. We recognize that evaluations are expensive and time-consuming, and we regularly work with students and their evaluators to identify the most efficient evaluation possible.

Many USC students also take other standardized exams during their time at the University, such as the MCAT, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, State Bar exams, MPRE, etc. When obtaining testing for USC, students are strongly encouraged to also look at the requirements of those standardized exams that the student is reasonably likely to take. Testing agencies may have requirements slightly different than USC, but with some planning, students can obtain an evaluation that will cover all their needs while at USC and beyond.

The following professionals would generally be considered to be qualified: clinical or educational psychologists, neuropsychologists, learning disability specialists and medical doctors who specialize in specific learning disabilities. Parents are not appropriate evaluators, even if they are otherwise qualified.

* Students whose only assessment is a recent, comprehensive, high school assessment that uses child-based norms may initially submit this report.  DSP will determine whether an additional, adult-normed assessment is necessary. Occasionally, a recent assessment that uses child-based norms can be used when the report clearly establishes the disability, and there is a strong likelihood the impact to the student currently exists.

All documentation is confidential and should be submitted to:

Disability Services and Programs
University of Southern California
3601 Watt Way, GFS 120
Los Angeles, CA 90089-1692
(213) 740-0776
(213) 740-8216 Fax